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June 2005

Dag Butchie!

She-Crab received her UK work visa yesterday: AND IT HAD THE WRONG NAME ON IT!  They printed her maiden name, even though her visa application and amended passport clearly listed her legal name.  Now we have to send it back to NYC where hopefully the British consulate will get their act together.

Meanwhile, we've officially reached a point of no return:  Yesterday, we purchased two nonfundable, one-way tickets to London!  We got a fare of $330 per person for flights from Washington National to London Gatwick (transfer in Philly), which is a ridiculously cheap fare considering it's high season and it's one-way.

I found this fare on a consolidator website called BT Store (  I highly recommend them for flights from US to Europe. BT has a decent rating on the Better Business Bureau website too.  They are a bit difficult to use at first; unlike Orbitz or other major sites, you don't actually purchase the ticket online. First you make your reservation, and then within 24 hours a human will determine whether the seat and price you reserved it still available. If it's accepted, you must fax a copy of your credit card and driver's license to their California office. Your ticket will arrive either via e-mail if it's an e-ticket, or FexEx for paper tickets. But it was worth it to save $100 per ticket from the next cheapest fare I had seen on Orbitz!

I'm legal!

Jimmie crab writes: I got my UK work visa on Saturday! Woo hoo! I can now legally work in the UK for 12 months. The downside is the morons at the British consulate made the start date of my visa as the date I submitted my paperwork, which was June 8, even though I clearly stated I would not be starting work until September 1. So this means I'll have to resubmit another application 9 months after we arrive. Morons!

Sook crab's visa application is in the mail and now we're just watching and waiting.

Joint crab news: On Monday, our credit card was charged a HUGE amount to cover six weeks deposit, our first months rent, the agent commission, plus a 2% penalty for using a credit card for the agency, plus a 3% penalty from Visa for foreign currency exchange fee. To put it in laymen's terms: we are EXTREMELY in debt now. I dont think i've ever owed so much one a credit card at one time. However it's just temporary. We're selling our car soon, which will knock our debt in half. And we still have 10 weeks of paychecks coming in before our big move. 

Editor's note
For you not Chesapeake Bay area natives: A "Jimmie" is a male crab; a "sook" is a female crab.

London quotes

"Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford."
Samuel Johnson, Sept. 20, 1777

"When it's three o'clock in New York, it's still 1938 in London."
Bette Midler, 1977

Our new home!

Chpk0070091_large4_2Chpk0070091_large4_3Here it is: The London Crab Shack!

(I'll send out the new mailing address privately to ya'll later.)

--Weekly rent for a tiny flat one-third the size of our current home: 275 pounds

--Letting agent fee: 350 pounds

--Council taxes: 1,000 pounds

--Television tax: 100 pounds

--Living in the heart of London, three blocks from the Angel tube station: PRICELESS!

London recon!

Uk_018Greetings all. We're back from a 4-day weekend in London to search for our dream flat. The bad news is, we didn't get a flat yet. We put down applications on several flats, but we were rejected by all the landlords because they needed a renter immediately and we can't move until late August.

But the good news is we've settled on the neighborhood where we want to live: Angel. It was a beautiful street full of cool restaurants, bars, cafes, cute shops, and quiet tree-lined side streets. It reminded me of Georgetown and Dupont Circle in Washington, but without the tourists of Georgetown or late-night craziness of Dupont. In the meantime, we have a few other offers floating around. We're in a wait-and-see mode.

Yes, London is expensive. But having lived in DC area all my life, it actually wasn't as outrageous as we thought it would be.  I'm sure visitors from Iowa would think otherwise! Some things are more expnsive, the main one being housing. The flats we're looking are about 500 square feet and cost the same amount as what we're paying now for a 1,500 sq ft, three-story townhouse in Arlington!  Food and drink is just slightly above DC prices, but at least you don't have to tip. But grocery stuff is relatively cheap. A fresh loaf of bread sells for 25 pence, less than 50 cents. 

Our paperwork is coming along.  M is sending in her application for a work visa tomorrow and I've just completed my visa exemption paperwork. Keep your fingers crossed.

Check out our photos here!